ASTANA -- Kazakhs will celebrate the Central Asian new year, Norouz, for three days instead of one as before.
The Kazakh Senate has adopted an amendment to the law on holidays, making March 21, 22, and 23 holidays for Kazakhs.
Seydakhmet Kuttykadam, the chief editor of the Almaty-based newspaper "Mysl" (Thought), told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that by prolonging the Norouz holiday the authorities are likely trying to make ordinary people happier during the global economic crisis.
The word Norouz derives from the Persian "Nov-Ruz" and literally means New Day.
It is an ancient, pre-Islamic holiday marked on the spring equinox.
The holiday was officially banned in 1926 by the Soviets in Central Asia.
In 1988, Norouz was reestablished as a national holiday and has been officially marked by Kazakhs on March 22.